Spice is the variety of life
Spring seems more or less to have arrived, at least here in New Brunswick and in Ottawa, where I was visiting friends last week and where the nice weather put me in the mood for grilling. Specifically, it put me in the mood for some jerk pork.
In the past, whenever I've made jerk at home, I've used the reliable, blazing hot sauce from President's Choice called "Memories of Montego Bay." I had almost gotten as far as the bottled sauce aisle at the grocery store before I thought to myself, "If I make the jerk sauce from scratch, it'll give me blog fodder!"
A quick search of the Internet later, I had a short list of the key ingredients in jerk paste: scallions, thyme, allspice (known in French as "piment de Jamaïque," or Jamaica pepper) and, of course, scotch bonnet peppers. These particular peppers have a reputation for being, roughly, the Hottest Peppers in Existence, so I was surprised to see that most jerk paste recipes online called for anywhere between 6 and 20 of them. Thinking I knew better, I scaled it back to two peppers for my jerk sauce.
Well, I was rewarded with a superlatively ho-hum jerk sauce. The other flavour elements were all in place (though it was maybe a little heavy on the thyme), but there was zero heat. In the future, I think I'll trust the Internet more. But at least I now have something to tweak!
Oh, and I do recommend serving it with mango salsa and Jamaican rice and peas. You can find lots of recipes for both of these in various corners of the Net.
(Sorry kids, no photo this time.)
Jerk Paste No. 1 (Not Recommended)
1 small onion, chopped
9 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
1.5 tsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp. dried thyme [Ed. note - Too much!]
2 scotch bonnet chilis [Ed. note - Not enough!]
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper
Grind to a paste in a food processor. Marinate meat (pork, chicken, goat, whatever). Grill. Eat.